26 October 2013

PR12E14 Charmeuse and Coffee

I am more than a little behind on watching and reviewing this one, but I have a lovely excuse, as I was in Paris last week for meetings. The two big TV events there were news stories — a controversy over a young Roma girls removed and deported with her family while she was on a school trip and a bitter primary battle in the Parti socialiste for the party candidacy in the race to be mayor of Marseilles. Enough of that and art and stuff, and back to what really matters: American wannabe designers in reality TV!

We start with a flashback of Helen being eliminated and then a lovely little “gather ‘round” moment with Tim underlining the specialness of the occasion. They will be off for one last visit to Mood — budget of $250 — because of the classy “Tide Pod” Challenge, creating a washable look that will bump one of their other looks from the runway. This pushes them to head off in search of such sought-after fabrics as “blends” and “poly blends”. A shudder makes its way up my spine.

Upon return to the workroom, they have a quick detour through the hair department, especially since Justin got severely criticized for his models’ hair last week and Alexandria seemed convinced that her braid look didn’t turn the judges’ cranks either (although I don’t recall that). I saw some extreme volume in the making!

Tim visits and has some general chatting with the contestants. He calls Bradon’s collection “sexy”, but I will have to go with Dom’s judgement on this one. She is curious to see what the judges will make of it, because she thinks it just looks old. I see so few pieces that I actually find pleasing that I would probably have as much trouble as Bradon in choosing which look to toss to make room for the “washable” one, but I suspect our hesitations are not coming from the same place.

For Dom, Tim reminds that the scale of the prints she is using means that it is very important for her to be symmetrical. The he turns and points to one dress and says how nice it looks in the middle, but that it gets “all janky” on the sides. Let me just say that I don’t get the big graphic print thing, especially if it is organized symmetrically, which is reason number 453 that I am not a teacher/mentor at design school, I guess. I am also not fond of Bradon’s interpretation of spring in old-lady florals, but I don’t think that disqualifies me from the aforementioned career in the wearable arts.

I’ll have to go with Alexandria’s comment about Justin’s collection. She says he has elements that are very innovative, but wonders if it is the garments or only the 3-D printed jewellery. I have to say those plastic pieces looked very interesting at the outset, especially with the “sound wave” back story, but they are losing their novelty in their ubiquity. Still loving the sound wave patterns on some of the outfits and, oddly enough for me, the paint-splattered pieces as well. So I’m not totally anti-print in the end.

Alexandria is a bundle of nerves and self-doubt at this point. She frets that Nina will see most of her tops as “another dumb t-shirt”. Tim helpfully reminds that the judges love to be listened to, so little tweaks and nods are necessary, or retribution will follow. Alexandria decides to replace some of her t-shirts with “slightly more special” tops. She has obviously forgotten about the time. Dom thinks Alexandria is “crazy” for undertaking that task.

I think we have seen more this year than any other of designers micro-managing their models. Choosing just the right piece for the right model, being very specific about how she should walk…I’m sure these things always happen (I would be disdainful if the designers didn’t have strong opinions about those things as parts of their looks), but we have seen more of it this time around. I think that was a compliment.

I don’t have much to say about the Billy B makeup consultation — oh, wait, I do have a couple of observations. I was waiting to see if Billy B would be there for the consultation with Justin, since I noticed that we didn’t see the two of them talking in the butterflies episode. I decided at that point that BB might be deaf-phobic, but he was front and centre for this final episode. Also front and centre was a life lesson for the rest of us from Billy B: if you absolutely must get a neck tattoo, or a tattoo that reaches up past your collar, do stay out of the sun. There’s something about overtanned old tattooed neck skin that just doesn’t scream “beauty” for me. Am I out of design school again?

Tick, tick, tick…the clock is running and we are getting to the end of the work room time on the day before the runway show. Bradon starts looking like a turkey at Thanksgiving, running back and forth because he doesn’t want to lose the time it would take to just walk. Dom finds the frantic running around irritating and we can see that it is also upsetting Justin, who may have turned off his hearing device, but can’t turn off his eyes. Then Tim comes in for a last “gather ‘round” moment and all Bradon can think to say in the side comment is about how wasteful that is of the time they have left — I think he was hoping to get in a good 10K run between his work station and the sewing room in that time. “How great is this?!” from Tim reduces them all to tears — happy, tired tears — which is most helpful for their productivity in the hour that remains.

Frantic gives way to peaceful overnight at the hotel. A little like Christmas, I might say, as the excited contestants get up early and have some reflection time before walking through the dark and quiet streets of Manhattan over to the Lincoln Centre for the show. One of them will surely get the present that s/he wants, waiting under the Lincoln Centre or Parson’s tree…

Peaceful can’t last, though. Frantic prepping underway, Tim arrives to give Justin some bad news: one of his models had broken her ankle and will have to be replaced. This with no real time to alter the garment she was supposed to wear. To those of us not “in the know” those models all look to be about the same size and shape (tiny and rail thin), but apparently they have different body types, at least in the eyes of those who are more tuned to such things. Justin’s not the only one with a setback that morning, as Bradon frets about how close the models’ food and coffee is to his clothes, right up until the moment where one of the models spills coffee down the front of the blue charmeuse gown. [Note to anyone wondering what charmeuse is about: it looks like a French word meaning charmer, but it is apparently a fabric treatment that you can do in silk (good) or polyester (what now?) and is to be pronounced “shar-moose”, at least in ‘Murrica.] Bradon frantically tries to figure out how to get the coffee stain out, apparently not even considering the Tide Pod sponsor….just saying.

The runway shows! Scan the audience first, though, and you will see a ton of friends and family members and then contestants from previous seasons, along with some from the current season (the eliminees, of course). I did not see either Sandro or Ken, so I will have to conclude that there were security guards at the door to keep them out. No models tripped and, to tell you the truth, I didn’t even see any coffee stains on Bradon’s gown, probably because I had to turn my head away from the icky floral print.

The judging started off well, with inspiring words from Heidi about how impressed they were and what a difficult task it would be to choose a winner. There were a couple of hints from Nina about who would likely not win — she wanted to see a couple more pieces from Justin that would bring a “wow” factor and she thought that Bradon’s collection was “disjointed”. We were also treated to Alexandria’s assertion that we need to stop printing phone books (I’m more on board with the statement than with the dress she made with the discarded offending items).

Then an invitation to share with the judges why each of them thought they should win. It was a tear-fest and a contest to see who had more challenges in their lives that was kind of difficult to watch:

Justin: he has been walked over all of his life because of his deafness, also hadn’t won a single challenge all season, so would like to start with this one.

Dom: she knows this is what she needs to be doing for the rest of her life and would be able to take the victory and turn it into something that matters.

Bradon: he had a 30 year career in dance that is over, thought he had nothing else until he found fashion and has come to this level of success after only 3 years.

Alexandria: she’s bankable and knows what girls want to wear, has sacrificed a lot, building two businesses from nothing, and is not there to come second. (Dangerous prediction, that!)

Designers go away for the judges’ close-up with the model muses. Here Zac really stands out for the inane comments:
  • Bradon needs more experience (D’oh! He shouldn’t have pointed out that this was only year 3 of his designer career!)
  • Dom doesn’t even know how sophisticated she is.
  • Alexandria thinks she’s so good on the construction Z wants to see the details to pick holes in it (but can’t, as it actually is good).

They’re back for the verdict. Bradon is out, and we are not really surprised at this point. Justin is out, which kind of caught me off guard. Then we are, in Heidi’s words, “down to the two girls”. (At this point I’m remembering Alexandria’s assertion that she wasn’t there to come in second with no small amount of foreboding.) And….Dom is the winner, but all the women on the judging panel will be calling Alexandria because they want her clothes.

I appreciated Alexandria’s honesty and sincerity after the verdict. “I feel let down.” “I’m happy she won, she’s a good person. I mean that.” That was very kind of her, in her disappointment and exhaustion.

For her part, Dom had a little honesty and optimism. She’s poor, she has been working two jobs, feels like she is always working and never has time for her craft. The win, for her, changes everything. We’ll see if it gives her a better boost as a designer than it has for most of the other Project Runway winners. I’ll be hoping that what it changes is her taste in prints.

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